Schools Already Struggled to Teach Reading Right. Now They Have to Do It Online


Ready or not, the nation’s elementary school educators are staring down a daunting new challenge: teach hundreds of thousands of young children to read, without being able to interact with them in person, using instead digital tools and videoconferencing platforms in sweeping new ways that are mostly untested.

Even before public schools shut their physical doors to help slow the spread of the coronavirus, many educators were struggling with this most fundamental of tasks. Especially concerning was schools’ scattershot, often-unscientific approach to teaching the basic building blocks of reading, such as understanding how sounds are put together to form words. That’s likely one reason why just 35 percent of American 4th graders are proficient readers, according to the most recent results of the National Assessment of Educational Progress.

Now, with thousands of schools reopening virtually or using a mix of online and in-person instruction, even those teachers trying the

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Author James Patterson gives reading grants to students learning virtually

Thousands of K-12 educators will receive $500 grants from author and philanthropist James Patterson to help students bolster reading skills as schools struggle to adapt pandemic-era online learning.

“Whether students are learning virtually at home or in the classroom, the importance of keeping them reading cannot be underscored enough,” Patterson said in a statement Tuesday, The Associated Press reported.

The grant program is administered by Patterson and Scholastic Book Clubs, which will provide educators an additional 500 club points to accompany $500 from Patterson.

The program received more than 100,000 applicants, and 5,000 teachers will be selected to receive grants and club points.

“Reading teaches kids empathy, gives them an escape when they most need it, helps them grapple with harsh realities, and perhaps most importantly, will remind them that they are not alone — even if they’re unable to see their teachers, classmates and friends in-person,” Patterson said.


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